The Friction Quartet was formed in 2011 by violinist Kevin Rogers and cellist Doug Machiz when they were students at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music (SFCM). They were joined by violinist Otis Harriel and violist Pei-Ling Lin. I did not encounter them until March of 2012, when they played the first composition that John Adams decided to call “String Quartet” at the SFCM Hot Air Festival. I had previously become aware of Rogers’ work through his contribution to a student performance of Arnold Schoenberg’s Opus 21 “Pierrot Lunaire,” presented at an end-of-term recital at SFCM in December of 2009. Since forming Friction went through a series of violists, but membership has stabilized since violist Taija Warbelow joined the group in 2013.
Since their formation Friction has given 70 world premiere performances and commissioned 32 works for string quartet. It thus seems appropriate that they will celebrate their fifth anniversary by concluding their tenure as the first Ensemble In Residence at the Center for New Music (C4NM). This coming season they will be Artists-in-Residence in the Old First Concerts series at Old First Church, a venue that has seen several of their premiere performances. Other residencies will include San Francisco Friends of Chamber Music and the Napa Valley Performing Arts Center.
Friction will conclude their C4NM residency with a pair of concerts featuring two of their most recent commissions. The first program will present the world premiere of Stephen Feigenbaum’s “Forever Reaching;” and the second will premiere “A Sleeptalker Describes the Rising of the Seas” by Alex Van Gils. The first concert will also feature the world premiere of Loren Loiacano’s “Besides” and will also include Roger Briggs’ “Friction” and Philip Glass’ third (“Mishima”) quartet. The second concert will present the West Coast premiere of Piers Hellawell’s “Driftwood on Sand,” along with Isaac Schankler’s “Hagiography” and Ursula Kwong-Brown’s “Emerald Meditations.”
These concerts will take place on the two last days of September, Thursday, September 29, and Friday, September 30. Both performances will begin at 7:30 p.m. General admission will be $15 with a $10 rate for C4NM members. Tickets will be available only at the door. C4NM is located at 55 Taylor Street, half a block north of where Golden Gate Avenue meets Market Street.